Blinkers are trainer Roger James’ secret weapon that has enabled his top class mare Silent Achiever to be looking at winning her fourth straight Group 1 in the $4m Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on Saturday.
The Cambridge trainer added the blinkers to Silent Achiever’s gear before her win in the Group 1 NZ$200,000 Lindauer New Zealand Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie on March 8 and the five year old mare has been undefeated at Group 1 level since.
“It’s fair to say she’s gone to another level this autumn,’’ James told The Daily Telegraph.
“I put it down to blinkers and maturity.”
“People say why didn’t you put her in blinkers earlier, but had I put the blinkers on earlier, I still don’t believe she was strong enough to be doing what she’s doing anyway.”
The 2012 New Zealand Derby winner was unable to win a Group 1 race in Australia until she beat Carlton House in the Group 1 $500,000 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on March 22, her second run with the blinkers on.
And then she made it a hat trick of Group 1 wins by beating It’s A Dundeel and Fiorente in the Group 1 $1.5m The BMW (2400m) at Rosehill on April 5.
James admits that he will have to call on all his skills as a top class trainer to bring Silent Achiever back from the 2400m of The BMW to be spot on for the 2000m of the Queen Elizabeth Stakes which he says is shaping as one of the great races of the world.
“It’s a matter (for me) of being able to train her after running a solid 2400m, being able to adjust the style and read the horse, and be able to get a sharp 2000m out of her,’’ James said.
“This will end up one of the great races in the world, it’s the richest 2000m race on turf, and it will only build.’’
“With these races, there’s only two to three lengths between the horses ability wise, it just comes down to luck in running, how a trainer has them on the day, what kind of ride they get, track conditions, the tempo, all these little variables decide the end result.
James is following the same program this year as he did twelve months ago but this time around his mighty mare in well and truly at her top.
Twelve months ago Silent Achiever ran fifth in the Ranvet Stakes, second to Fiveandahalfstar in the The BMW before dropping back to the 2000m in the Queen Elizabeth to finish fourth to Reliable Man.
The Gai Waterhouse trained Carlton House hasn’t raced since running second to Silent Achiever in the Ranvet Stakes but is currently the ruling $3.70 favourite for the Queen Elizabeth Stakes with Silent Achiever the second pick at $4.60 with Kiwi rival It’s A Dundeel on the third line of betting at $5.
Trainer Chris Waller supplies the next four in the betting with Royal Descent ($7), Sacred Falls ($8), Hawkspur ($11) and Boban ($13).